Making the Final Move

mover with boxes on dolly

Whether you are hesitant or ready to move after the death of your loved one, it is helpful to understand the housing options and benefits available to survivors — as well as some practical steps to take — that may assist your move when the day comes.

Housing and allowances

Government housing

If you are living in government housing as an authorized dependent, you are eligible to continue to do so for a year from the date of your loved one’s death. Should you decide to move out of government housing before the 365th day after your loved one’s death, you will be paid a Basic Allowance for Housing for the unused days at the current rate of BAH for your loved one’s pay grade. Access the BAH calculator.

If you should desire to remain in quarters past the 365th day, you must submit a written request to the installation commander via the appropriate housing office. If approved, rental charges at the current rate may be applied, as the BAH entitlement ends 365 days after the date of the member’s death. If you are in leased government housing, the 365-day rule and payment of BAH for any unused days still applies.

Nongovernment housing

If you are not living in government housing at the time of your loved one’s death, you will be provided a lump-sum payment of 365 days BAH at the rate for your loved one’s pay grade.

Surviving spouses who are service members

If you are a surviving spouse and a member of the armed services, you are also eligible to receive BAH as an authorized dependent. This allowance is paid in addition to any other pay and allowances to which you are entitled as a service member.

Storage of household goods

If you want to relocate but need more time to decide where to move, the government can store your household goods for up to one year. Any storage beyond one year will be at your own expense and will be permitted only if you send a written request to the transportation office handling your move explaining your extenuating circumstances. Contact your transportation office for assistance.

Your last move

You are also authorized one relocation move at government expense, which must be completed within three years of the death of your loved one. A request for an extension may be made if necessary. For help, contact your casualty assistance officer or the transportation office at the installation nearest to you.

Steps for making the final move

Survivors are often overwhelmed in the days following the death of a loved one. It can be difficult to remember all the details involved in a move. Here is a simple checklist of steps to take to ensure a smooth move:

Step 1: Make an appointment with the transportation office. Use Military OneSource’s PCS & Military Moves page to locate the nearest transportation office. There, you can opt to schedule your move.

  • Select the link for “first time users.”
  • Select your spouse’s branch of service.
  • Create your Defense Personal Property System account.
  • Schedule your move online via the DPS.

Step 2: Take inventory of your belongings. Include as much information in your inventory as possible: the number of items and their names, descriptions and condition, serial number, receipts or value and pictures. Store your inventory in a safe place, such as the cloud or a safety deposit box.

Step 3: File claims for your travel. Visit the Defense Travel Management Office website to find the most recent per diem rates. Find claim-filing information and forms under the Defense Travel System. Save your receipts for lodging, gas and food.

Step 4: File claims for lost or damaged belongings. You have nine months to file claims that may be eligible for repair or full replacement value from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and 75 days after the date of delivery to report lost or damaged items via the DPS.

We know this is a challenging time for you and your family. Support is available for you each step of the way. Military OneSource can refer you to professionals who will help you get organized, provide guidance on financial decisions, explain housing allowances and teach you how to manage the stress and grief of moving without your loved one. Call 800-342-9647. OCONUS/Overseas? Click here for calling options.

You can also reach out to your casualty assistance officer, your long-term case manager, and the Military and Family Support Center, as well. Remember, you will always have a place in the military community.

Department of Defense Directory on Early Intervention, Special Education and Related Services in OCONUS Communities

Student working on cognitive pattern perception exercise

Whether your family is moving to Ansbach, Germany or Camp Zama, Japan, you’ll want to know everything you can about overseas schools, especially if you have children with special educational needs. The Department of Defense Directory on Early Intervention, Special Education and Related Services in OCONUS Communities explains the levels of support in overseas communities for military dependents with special educational needs. Use the OCONUS directory to:

  • Review the location of programs in each military community outside the contiguous U.S.
  • Identify the support level offered by programs in these communities.
  • Find out which communities offer specialized services – including early intervention and special education.

How is the OCONUS directory organized?

  • Chart 1 identifies special education resources by country and communities in each country. It lists community schools, levels of special education resources and notes availability of services at specific schools.
  • Chart 2 lists schools by community and identifies military installation type, the military component that provides early intervention services through Educational and Developmental Intervention Services and EDIS clinic locations.
  • Chart 3 lists communities with specialized Level 3 services.

What else should I know about the OCONUS directory?

  • Military medical departments and Department of Defense schools use the directory to make travel recommendations for military dependents with special needs to overseas locations.
  • Only specially trained professionals should match children’s needs with resources in communities outside the continental U.S.
  • The directory does not identify preestablished programs or services for special medical needs.
  • Being assigned to a location listed in the directory doesn’t guarantee early intervention services or participation in special education programs.

Explore the directory to connect with the services your family needs. Reach out to your EFMP Family Support provider prior to your PCS to request a warm hand off to the gaining Family Support provider or School Liaison. Locate the EFMP Family Support provider near you by visiting MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.

For more details on moving overseas with an Individual Education Program, see An Overview of Special Education.

Visit EFMP & Me to create a customized checklist for your family. Review the OCONUS PCS section for tips and resources for your OCONUS move. Tune in to Episode 3 of the EFMP Podcast Series, to get additional tips for smoothing your medical and educational transitions when you move.

Take advantage of available services offered by EFMP Family Support on your installation. Or, call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or use live chat to schedule an appointment with a special needs consultant. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options. Appointments are available seven days a week.

Living Overseas on Military Pay: What to Expect

service member shops at foreign market

Overseas or OCONUS PCS orders can be exciting, especially if you’ve never been outside of the CONUS. The military can help you with the added costs of an international move and living expenses abroad.

Here are tips for finding free military moving services, getting OCONUS allowances and budgeting for daily living expenses.

Overseas pay and allowances

Your service branch will help you move your household goods and even a personally owned vehicle to a new overseas duty station. This financial help is generally a one-time reimbursement of moving costs. You can start figuring out those costs by visiting the PCS & Military Moves page to register for OCONUS moving help.

However, there are additional pays and allowances you may receive during your time overseas above your regular basic pay. Two of the main allowances overseas personnel receive are an overseas Cost of Living Allowance and an Overseas Housing Allowance. Qualifying service members are also able to receive benefits from the Family Supplemental Subsistence Allowance Program program.

  • Overseas Cost of Living Allowance: This allowance helps service members afford the higher living expenses incurred at some overseas installations. It depends on location, rank and number of dependents, and may change from paycheck to paycheck based on fluctuations in the exchange rate. Use the official Overseas COLA Calculator to see how much COLA to expect at overseas installations.
  • Overseas Housing Allowance: This allowance helps service members pay for overseas housing “on the economy,” or off-base in the surrounding civilian neighborhood. You apply for OHA through your local housing office or commander. When you find housing, submit DD Form 2367, “Individual Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) Report.” You can use the official OHA Calculator to see current OHA rates for overseas installations.
  • Family Supplemental Subsistence Allowance Program: This is a Department of Defense program that supplements an eligible active service member’s household income if it’s below 130% of federal poverty guidelines (maximum payment is $1,100 per month). FSSA is only available for members with at least one dependent in their households who are serving overseas (not including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands or Guam). For more information about the FSSA program or any other assistance, members should contact their family support center, command or community services financial management counselors. The FSSA Application, DD Form 2857 is available on the WHS DOD Forms website.

Find OCONUS installation resources quickly.

The MilitaryINSTALLATIONS free online tool shows you available services and contact info at installations worldwide – plus maps, community reports and more.

Common overseas expenses for OCONUS moves

Those moving and OCONUS allowances, in addition to your basic pay, help with major expenses while you’re overseas. With careful budgeting you can also manage daily living expenses like these:

  • Exchange rates: Local currency fluctuations affect both Overseas COLA and OHA payments. You will be paid in U.S. dollars, but how much that dollar can buy will depend on the local currency’s exchange rate. Use the official Overseas COLA and OHA calculators to determine the current pay system exchange rates and how a currency change may affect your payment. Prepare to pay a small fee whenever you need to convert cash dollars into the local currency.
  • Storage unit fees: You may not be able to take everything overseas with you. If you are not authorized nontemporary storage at government expense and you need to store items, you’ll need to budget for the monthly fee of a storage unit.
  • Overage baggage fees: Military moving services have weight limits on how much they’ll ship to your new home. If you go over your weight limit, you’ll have to pay added moving fees.
  • Car and local travel expenses: Before you ship your car overseas, consider the local cost of gas and maintenance. Many service members buy a used car when they arrive at a new station, then sell it before they return home. Without a car, add local transportation options like train or bus passes to your budget.
  • New clothing: OCONUS moves may mean dressing for different climates. See if you should purchase parkas or swimsuits in the United States and ship them over. It may make more sense to buy them after you arrive.
  • Cultural expenses: The adventure of living in a new place also means paying for things you may not expect. For example, in some countries you’ll only receive a utility bill once or twice a year – but that bill will be much higher than a “regular” monthly bill. You may also need to pay for drinking water at restaurants, rather than getting it for free. Ask your local sponsor for help budgeting for possible expenses like these.
  • Foreign sales taxes: New countries usually mean new sales taxes. Be prepared to pay higher local taxes on goods and services.
  • “Homesick” expenses: You may be craving peanut butter, but it may be hard to find or is very expensive overseas. Try checking with your base commissary or exchange first for deals on American products, or you can ask friends or family back home to ship them to you in care packages.

This is just an overview of the many financial decisions you may make during your OCONUS move and time living abroad. If you’d like some help planning and budgeting for your overseas adventure, you can schedule a free consultation with a Military OneSource financial counselor. They can give you a hand whenever you need it — before your move, while you’re settling in or when you’re coming home.

Financial counselors are just one way Military OneSource connects you to the services, programs and information you need to live your best MilLife. Let us give you a hand today.

What to Expect During Military Funeral Honors

honor guard fold American flag

From the folding of the flag to the sounding of Taps, here is a guide to what you can expect during military funeral honors.

The Military Funeral Honors Program includes traditions, within the funeral honors, intended to express deep gratitude for those who have served our nation.

To receive military funeral honors, you must:

  • Submit your request with the appropriate documentation as soon as possible. The military services need the time to organize the resources for a military funeral honors detail.
  • Request military funeral honors through the eligible veteran’s funeral director/planner or funeral honors coordinator.

Understanding Military Funeral Honors and Eligibility

Providing military funeral honors is our nation’s way of showing gratitude and paying final tribute to a veteran’s honorable military service. Review the MilLife Learning eTutorial to better understand the Military Funeral Honors Program and eligibility.

The sounding of Taps, folding of the flag and more

By law, military units are required to provide, at a minimum, a two-person uniformed detail to present the core elements of a funeral honors ceremony. This includes the playing of Taps and the folding and presentation of the U.S. flag. A uniformed representative from the veteran’s service will present the flag.

Taps and the ceremonial bugle: The version of Taps we know today was officially recognized by the U.S. Army in 1874. Beginning in 1891, the playing of Taps became standard at military funeral ceremonies and was legislated in 2013 as the “National Song of Military Remembrance.” The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2000 directed the playing of Taps at veterans’ military funerals. Although a live bugler is preferred, a ceremonial bugle or a high-quality recording on a stereo player may be used. (A ceremonial bugle is an electronic device that fits directly inside the bell portion of a bugle and contains a recording of Taps.)

Flag presentation protocol and flag folding: The U.S. flag honors the memory of a service member or veteran’s service to our country. The ceremonial folding and presentation of the flag is a tribute of lasting importance to our service members, veterans and their families.

The flag is draped on a closed casket so that the union blue field is at the head and over the left shoulder of the deceased. When an urn is used, the flag is already in a military fold. The lead body bearer carries the folded flag to the right of the urn. Once the urn comes to rest, the body bearers unfold the flag and hold it at the pall over the cremated remains. The remainder of the ceremony is conducted in the same manner as casketed remains.

After Taps is played, the flag is carefully folded into the symbolic tricorn shape. A properly proportioned flag will fold 13 times on the triangles, representing the 13 original colonies. The folded flag is emblematic of the tricorn hat worn by the patriots of the American Revolution. When folded, no red or white stripe is to be evident, leaving only the blue field with stars.

It is then presented as a keepsake to the next of kin or a close friend or associate of the deceased veteran if there is no next of kin.

The flag presentation protocol is as follows:

  • Stand facing the flag recipient and hold the folded flag waist high with the straight edge facing the recipient.
  • Lean toward the flag recipient and solemnly present them with the flag.

Effective April 17, 2012, the Department of Defense standardized the flag presentation language for military funeral honors ceremonies. The following words, mandated by the DOD, are to be used when presenting the American flag during the funeral service:

“On behalf of the President of the United States, (the United States Army; the United States Marine Corps; the United States Navy; the United States Air Force or the United States Coast Guard), and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.”

Burial flag: To receive a burial flag, complete a VA Form 27-2008, “Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes,” and take it to your funeral director, any Veterans Affairs regional office or a post office. (Call ahead to make sure your local post office has burial flags.)

  • Burial flags are provided at no cost.
  • The flag will be presented to the veteran’s next of kin. If no claim is made for the flag by the next of kin, it may be given, upon request, to a close friend or associate of the deceased veteran.
  • Additional information can be obtained from the VA’s website.

Additional funeral honors elements: Depending on available resources and personnel, other elements may be added to the minimum two-person uniformed detail. These elements may include a rifle volley, color guard, pallbearers, a caisson and a military flyover. Trained volunteers through the Authorized Provider Partnership Program and veteran services organizations may augment the two-person service detail as members of the firing party or color guard. They can also serve as pallbearers and assist in other elements of the process.

  • Military flyovers: Military flyovers are not part of the mandated funeral honors ceremony as required by Title 10, Section 1491 United States Code, but can be arranged if supporting personnel and aircraft are available. It should be noted that requests for a military flyover are just requests. Approval must go through an administrative process within each military service. Approval is based on many factors, including the eligibility of the deceased, the availability of personnel and aircraft, the location of the funeral service, the time and date of the funeral and weather conditions.
  • Burial at sea: Burial at sea is a means of final disposition of cremated or casketed remains that is performed on U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels. The Coast Guard will not normally provide burial at sea for casketed remains. Family members are not routinely authorized to be present, especially for the Navy, as the committal service is performed while the ship is deployed. The commanding officer of the ship assigned to perform the ceremony will notify the family of the date, time and longitude and latitude once the committal service has been completed. For additional information concerning eligibility and procedures, refer to Navy Personnel Command or the Coast Guard.

These details of military funeral honors are intended to honor the service member or veteran’s commitment and sacrifice to their country and provide comfort and gratitude to their families.

Questions? You can ask your military funeral honors coordinator or call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.

Travel Benefits for College Students Who Are Military Family Members

airplane flying at dusk

Military family members who are college students may have to consider international travel to get to their families during breaks. And travel can be expensive, especially during the holidays. Fortunately, military family members enrolled in colleges away from their active-duty parent’s OCONUS duty station are eligible for travel benefits.

How to qualify for travel benefits

The government will pay for one round trip each fiscal year for college students if they meet the following requirements:

  • The military parent is on an accompanied tour and the rest of the family is living OCONUS with them. If this is the case, the student will be sponsored by the command.
  • The service member is the custodial parent of the college student.
  • The student is unmarried and under age 23. Depending on the circumstances, there may be some exceptions to the age restriction.
  • The student is attending an accredited college or school to obtain an undergraduate degree or post-secondary vocational or technical training.
  • The student attends school full time for at least 12 credit hours.
  • The student has already traveled to the parent’s home on PCS orders. For example, if a student’s family moves to Italy mid-semester, the student can fly to Italy on PCS orders during the semester break. After that, the student will be eligible for one round trip each fiscal year. This means the flight back to school would be covered, but the student would have to wait a full fiscal year before being eligible for military-paid travel again.

This travel benefit must be authorized through the service member’s command and be completed through the military travel office. See the travel coordinator on your installation for more information.

Transitional Compensation: Help for Victims of Abuse

Holding hands in comfort

Victims of abuse can feel isolated and discouraged. For military families, this isolation can be more intense when they are living far from extended family and close friends. No matter what your situation is, the military community has resources to support you. If you’ve bravely decided to leave an abusive relationship, transitional compensation is a financial benefit that can help you move and get back on your feet.

To be eligible for the benefit:

You are not alone

Whether you are questioning your partner’s behavior toward you or looking for ways to manage your safety at home, help is available.

  • You must have been living in the home of and married to the service member.
  • Your service member must have been convicted of a dependent-abuse offense.
  • Your service member must have been separated from the military under a court-martial sentence, sentenced to a forfeiture of all pay and allowances by a court martial for a dependent-abuse offense or administratively separated, at least in part, for a dependent-abuse offense.

A dependent-abuse offense must be listed as a reason for the separation or forfeiture, although it does not have to be the primary reason. Active-duty victims of domestic violence are also eligible for transitional compensation when the offender is also active duty.

What you need to know

If you’re eligible to receive transitional compensation benefits, there are some important aspects of the benefit you should know about.

  • Amount of the benefit: The compensation amount is based on the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, which changes annually. Find current amounts at the Department of Veterans Affairs DIC website.
  • Length of the benefit: It is available for 12 months, or the unserved portion of the service member’s obligated active service, whichever is longer. Compensation will not extend beyond 36 months.
  • Maintaining eligibility: You will become ineligible for compensation and benefits if you remarry or move back in with the former service member while receiving benefits.
  • Recertifying eligibility: If your compensation is available for more than 12 months, you are required to recertify your eligibility annually.
  • Travel and transportation allowance: You may be eligible to receive this allowance along with the transitional compensation benefit. It helps abused spouses or parents of abused children who need to move away from the abuser for safety reasons. It can be used to cover travel expenses and the cost of shipping household goods.
  • Other benefits: As part of the Transitional Compensation Program, you may be eligible for other benefits, including medical care, exchange privileges and commissary privileges.

Transitional compensation is one of the many resources available to you as a victim of domestic abuse. Your installation’s Family Advocacy Program or legal assistance office can help you apply for transitional compensation and provide you with additional information on legal topics, such as divorce. Also, your installation’s FAP staff can help you:

  • Develop a safety plan for you and your family
  • Find a safe house or shelter
  • Access counseling
  • Arrange a medical exam or court appearance
  • Find additional military and civilian resources

Remember that as a victim of domestic abuse, you are not alone. Victim advocates are available to provide you with information and resources. And you don’t have to be experiencing a crisis to speak with a victim advocate — they can support you regardless of what state your relationship is in. Read more about your domestic abuse reporting options while in the military, and know that if you have questions, your victim advocate can help.